Good Omens

Living a genderqueer life

Category: everyday things

Alien from space

Queuing for lunch at work today, I had a conversation with two children, ages maybe five and six. It went approximately like this – I did a bit of abridging. All the while, imagine me concentrating very hard on not looking at the fifty adults standing in the line too, and not imagining what they are thinking.

Child 1: Look Dad, that man’s got yellow glasses!

Adult (tiredly): Well, indeed.

Me: What makes you think I’m a man?

Child 1: You’ve got hairy legs.

Child 2: So you’re a man.

Me: Actually that’s not true. All people with hairy legs aren’t men.

Child 1: But you look like a man.

Me: But I’m not.

Child 2: Are you a woman then?

Me: Nope.

Child 1 (victoriously): Then you’re a man!

Me: I’m not a man, and I’m not a woman. I’m transgender.

Child 1 & Child 2: What’s that?

Me: There’s other people than men or women.

Child 1 & Child 2: No there aren’t.

Child 1: I’m sure you’re a man. You’re just kidding me.

Me: You can be sure and still be wrong. I’m not kidding you, I’m not a man.

Child 1: What are you then? Are you an alien from space?

Me: That’s okay with me.

Child 1: But you look like a man!

Me: You say I look like a man because you’ve been told that people who look like me are men. That’s not always true.

Child 2: But I know you’re a man!

Me: You can’t know what anybody is until they tell you. It’s not about (insert Finnish child words for genitalia) and it’s not about what you look like.

Child 1:

Child 2:

Child 1: So are you just a human?

Me: Yes, that’s exactly right. I’m just me, and I’m just a human.

Child 1: BUT YOU LOOK LIKE A MAN!

Me: I’m in disguise.

Child 2: In disguise?

Me: Yep.

Child 1 & Child 2: Oh. (They take their food trays & go, glance at me over their shoulders, I smile amusedly, they smile bemusedly.)

Coming out (again, again and again)

Why do I have to do this?
Why does it have to be me?
Why can’t I just be normal?

Why am I so scared?
Why do I have to be brave again and again?
Does it ever get easier to say the words?

What makes you think I’m a…?
Why do you say that?
Have you ever heard of a person that is …? No?

Oh.

Why’s it me that needs to educate you?
Why don’t you know all this already?
Why didn’t they tell you?

Why didn’t they tell me?

Abstract

In this blog post, some topics concerning the author’s current occupations are looked briefly into. Among these are the ongoing, final teacher practice taking place at Helsingin Normaalilyseo, the long Finnish winter turning slowly into spring, and the author’s joy in finding that so many people have joined them in signing the citizen’s initiative for an equal marriage law that started gathering names today. The initiative has in less than twenty hours jumped first from zero to ten thousand signers, then to the critical 50000, and is at the time of the writing of these words reached 84000 with no sign of slowing down.

It is argued that the author has grown a slight preference towards teaching Civil Ethics over Religion, and that while this change is by no means dramatic, it might have some impact on the career choices and educative-political views of said author.

Deep regrets are expressed for the swift deterioration in the condition of the author’s 60-year-old Russian double bass, which will be operated on at a high cost by the skilled staff at a Helsinki-based lutherie. Still, a positive attitude towards the immediate future and optimistic views on a possibly forthcoming insurance indemnity are professed to the reader.

Hi there,

I’m OK.

There were a lot of things on my mind on Saturday evening, when I wrote the last post. Basically, it was the tension from preparing for a big concert relieving in a sudden flush of exhaustion and despair. On Sunday morning I was already “back to normal”, but I still took Sunday and Monday off from playing bass. What a good decision! Tomorrow I’ll pick up the instrument again, with a completely renewed fresh feeling.

50 things that make me happy

Walking. Running. Swimming. Cooking. Knitting.

Traveling. Hiking. Big cities. Really small towns. Cozy cafés.

Hotel breakfasts. Bathtubs. Somebody cleaning the room for me. Sleeping in. Arriving at a new place.

Talking with people. Talking to people. Learning a foreign language. Learning a new Finnish word. Dialects.

Concerts that start early. Concerts with good sound technicians. Dancing people. Dancing with people. Drinking really cold water.

Tsuumi Sound System. Paul Simon. Pizzicato Five. Rachmaninov’s Cello Sonata in G minor. Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät.

Free evenings with nothing to do. Being with my love. Making pasta. Sugared ginger slices. Looking out of the bedroom window and seeing our aspen against the sky.

Writing lists. Reading good books without any hurry to finish them. Paul Auster’s books. HelLooks. Sora’s blog.

Inviting friends over. Hot chocolate with chili powder and cardamom. Taking the last bus. Cycling home in August.  Urban foxes.

Dr. Martens boots. Wasabi. Spring. Autumn. Life.

Walk a while with me

As a dog-owner, I’m used to walking a lot regardless of the weather. I’m also used to walking in a most non-talkative company, free to think things over. I like walking. Recently, I have found a way of walking I call my caretaker walk, because that’s how I move around at work. My caretaker walk differs from my usual walk in that it is at the same time completely immersing – I concentrate on the act of taking the next step, and nothing else – and thus also, in a way, liberating.

Walking like this, I’m freed from the usual hubbub of random thoughts bouncing off the inside of my skull, which leaves me an unusual amount of brain capacity to concentrate on my surroundings. I become aware of the trajectories people move along, of their facial expressions and the state of their shoes – I can see where they come from and so, because that is my job, will be able to point them at the right direction.

The caretaker walk also works when I’m not at work. The walk is in some way both the synonym and the opposite of being invisible. What I’m trying to say is, when walking this way, I become totally visible – people usually concentrate on their destination and not the way they are walking, so it is possible to stand out from the crowd just by doing this – and at the same time, I’m surrounded by an “invisibility cloak” of total self-confidence. People see me looking like it’s natural for me to be there, like I belong exactly there – and so they can put me out of their minds until they have a need for me.

But there are, of course, other important ways of walking. My love is also studying to be a teacher, and for three weeks (starting yesterday), ze is doing a teaching practice at a school near us. Hir “schoolday” begins every day at 8 in the morning, and because the school is just two kilometers away, ze walks there and back. My current study plan is “independent work” until Christmas, so I have been able to walk with hir (and the dog) to the school these two mornings, and will do so again tomorrow. It feels good to walk in the growing morning light with my love, holding hands and maybe not even talking. Feeling the closeness and affection we have shared for seven years gives me strength to face a new day of making myself visible.

Have done vs. To do

I’ve figured that my memory is very non-chronological: it sorts things and events by sound and feel, even taste and smell, not the order I’ve actually done them in. This leads to me thinking through the day in the evening and feeling I haven’t done anything useful. This is because all the day’s events are already stored away in my brain’s folds, to be reactivated by similar things in the future.

Because of this, I’ve started to keep a mental (and today written) Have done list, so that I don’t feel useless and lazy all the time: now I can check my list to see I’ve actually been quite active today. It’s an empowering feeling to do that. All the little things amount to quite a lot of work. And it’s also nice to see that sometimes the list is quite short. That’s a free day, and a free day is great, it’s a luxury.

How to sit still

This morning, my love and I shared a breakfast at the old café/restaurant Eliel at the Helsinki Central Railway Station. The food was OK, not really good but not bad either. The orange juice was really nice.

My love had an appointment with a dentist, and I stayed a while to finish my second cuppa tea. The Railway Station has tall windows that open to a street full (at that time) of people hurrying past. I sat at my table, looking at the people. Do I look like that, I wondered. Probably: I hardly ever stop to look at the buildings, or sky, or trees, of my home city. And how often do I look at the people on the streets like this, with my attention fully on them?

Having realized this, I will have to go back to the basic idea of my yesterday’s blog, and put in other words some things I may have been writing not so clearly there. This will be the topic of my next post. Now for some serious bass playing.

See you!

Another day in drag

When I pass you on the street, and you look at my direction – what do you see?

I’m invisible.

And so are you. I realized something when I became aware of being genderqueer: we humans don’t really see each other. When I look at you, I see clothes (usually), a hairstyle, a body of a certain shape, perhaps a face – and from them I figure out a “you” that fits the type of “yous” I’ve learned to know with this kind of a combination. Even naked, I only see an outside, not you. That is why it is so dangerous to “judge a book by its covers.” You really can’t know how a person wants to be seen, before you ask or get to know them.

For a time, I felt really bad when shopping clothes, either at the women’s or the men’s part of a shop (usually thrift or second hand places, my economy being what it is), because I’m neither. I thought if I only could dress androgynously, I would feel better. But then, a couple of weeks ago, I had a little sentence pop in my head, that has made me feel increasingly confident:

“Every day is another day in drag.”

I can’t dress in a way that would make people see me as I see myself, because for them, I don’t exist – yet. But if I tell them about myself, make myself visible to them, they will eventually see me as I want to be seen, no matter how I dress. So when I put on some clothes in the morning, or even take them off for sauna, I, in choosing how to appear to other people, create a symbol of myself that is visible socially. The symbol, my body, clothing, even behavior and way of talking, beckon others towards my own sense of myself, a thing apart from these but still in some way inseparable from them.